Foreign trade is an important part of the economic life of any country and for Mongolia it is an essential part of its economic life. In recent years foreign trade in Mongolia is expanding, offering consumers a wide variety of goods and services. Thereby traders, both importers and exporters, must carefully and mindfully choose from range of trade finance tools to help their transactions run smoothly.
Most popular and commonly used trade finance tool is a letter of credit. Working with an overseas buyer can be risky because you don’t really know who you’re working with. A buyer may be honest and have good intentions, but business troubles or political unrest can delay payment or put a buyer out of business. In addition, due to different laws, different time zones, and different languages there might occur certain difficulties. A letter of credit spells out the details so that everybody is on the same page. Instead of assuming that things will work a certain way, everybody agrees on the process up front.
A letter of credit is a document issued by a bank that guarantees payment. There are several types of letters of credit, and some of them may be defined by their purpose. Still they provide security when buying and selling. Importers and exporters regularly use letters of credit to protect themselves.
Commercial letter of credit is a standard letter of credit that is commonly used in international trade and may also be referred to as a documentary credit. This is a negotiable financial instrument from an importer’s (buyer’s) bank guaranteeing that payment to an exporter (seller) will be the correct amount and received on time subject to the exporter presenting compliant shipping documents (assuming those documents meet the requirements listed in the letter of credit).
To get a letter of credit, importers must contact a bank in their home country and apply for opening a letter of credit. In Mongolia most banks issue letters of credit. In turn sellers must trust that the bank issuing the letter of credit is legitimate and that the bank will pay as agreed. If sellers have any doubts, they can use a “confirmed” letter of credit, which means that another (presumably more trustworthy) bank will guarantee payment. Sellers typically get letters of credit confirmed by banks in their home country.
However, prior to contacting a bank, important to remember that buyer and seller must have mutual agreement that the payment will be done with a letter of credit and list all requirements to shipping documents in the contract.